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10 Essential Tips for Avoiding Knee Damage

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • If you hear a clicking or popping sound in your knee when getting up from a sitting position or while walking, as well as sometimes feeling that the bones in the knee joint are rubbing together, it could be a sign that knee damage has already occurred.
  • Reducing your weight by five kilograms can not only decrease knee pain, it can can help reduce the risk of knee damage by up to 50%.
  • People whose knees are in such pain that it has an effect on their daily lives, including those with irregular knee joint positioning, should seek treatment in the form of total knee arthroplasty surgery.

 

Knee Damage

As we get older, knee damage looms large on the horizon, with such a condition more common in women than men. Knee damage is particularly prevalent in those who are overweight. The heavier we are, the faster our knees deteriorate.

Knee damage occurs as a result of the cartilage erosion which gradually increases as we age. It can also be caused by overworking the knees, by injury or sustained impacts on the knees over an extended period of time.

Furthermore, the following factors can also play a key role in the onset of knee damage: osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, genetics, receiving joint injections and various other joint related disorders, such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis.

Knee damage is not a particularly dangerous condition but it can have a serious effect on a person’s lifestyle, often leaving them with pain that makes walking difficult. Sufferers may fear leaving their home, become increasingly withdrawn and eventually fall victim to depression.

Some types of knee pain will go away by themselves. However, where that knee pain is a result of knee damage, a medical consultation should be attended in order to receive the proper advice and treatment thereafter, thereby ensuring that the condition does not deteriorate.

We can all assess whether we are suffering from knee damage by looking out for the following symptoms:

  1. Knee pain that gets worse when the knee is being used and is alleviated by rest.
  2. The joint becoming stuck, causing difficulty in extending or flexing the knee.
  3. A swollen knee caused by inflammation in the joint tissue or an accumulation of liquid within the joint.
  4. Hearing a soft sound in the knees when getting up from a seated position or while walking. It may also feel like the bones in the joint are rubbing together.
  5. Irregularities in the bone that feel like a part of the joint is sticking out, or the bone appearing larger than usual.
  6. In severe cases of knee damage, knee joint buckling and losing its regular shape.
  7. The muscle surrounding the knee joint decreasing in size or becoming weaker.

Treatment

Treatment may come in medicated and non-medicated forms, which could involve asking the patient to carry out some targeted exercises to increase knee strength as well as losing any excess weight to reduce the impact on the knees. Some cases may require the patient to undergo strength training alongside taking medication to reduce the pain. This increases treatment efficiency by helping to stave off any potential complications, for instance, deterioration in muscle strength surrounding the knee joint, knee buckling or being unable to flex the knee properly.

Total knee arthroplasty: This form of surgery is suited to patients with severe knee damage who have the use of their knee seriously affected by the condition, impacting their daily life. Recipients of this form of treatment will not have responded well to other forms of treatment, meaning that non-medicated treatment or medicated treatment alongside strength training has been unsuccessful. Alternately, they may be suffering from an extremely misshapen knee joint that is leading to walking irregularities and severe knee cartilage erosion.

10 essential tips to avoid knee damage

1.Lose weight: Do not allow yourself to become overweight as this will mean more work for the knee joints. For those people who are already overweight, losing 5 kilograms can help reduce your risk of knee damage by up to 50%. Additionally, those with knee pain can ease their condition significantly by losing any excess weight.

2.Consult your doctor: Your doctor will be able to carry out a thorough diagnosis, provide treatment and offer advice on what to do next.

3.Avoid heavy impacts: Generally speaking, knee damage occurs as a result of playing some types of sport, such as football and rugby.

4.Stop being mean to your knees: Avoid kneeling down, sitting cross-legged or sitting with your knees bent for long periods of time. Try to find a small chair or cushion to rest your knees so that they are not extended for too long at a time, but if you cannot avoid this, make sure you change your sitting position frequently.

5.Avoid overworking the knees: Try to avoid, for instance, jumping, lifting heavy objects or activities that rely on the knees working hard, such as walking on uneven ground or going up and down stairs.

6.Exercise: Strengthening the muscles at the front of the knee joint will aide any flexing of the knee and reduce knee pain considerably.

7.Seek treatment immediately: Treatment should be carried out as soon as possible if you are in an accident or have suffered knee damage. Moreover, an appropriate amount of time should be given to rest and recuperation before returning to partaking in the sport or physical activity once more.

8.Select the right footwear: Choosing the correct footwear to suit the activity is essential. The correct shoes will help you reduce the risk of injury and aide the work carried out by the knee by allowing it to flex properly without tensing up. This is especially important for women who should not be wearing shoes with too high a heel as this can easily cause the knee joint to twist unnaturally.

9.Increase the consumption of beneficial foods: This applies to foods which can help strengthen the knee, for example:

  • Sour fruits or berries, which are full of vitamin C and antioxidants that can reduce joint inflammation.
  • Green tea, tomatoes and spring onions are beneficial as they contain flavonoids, which aide antioxidants in reducing pain and inflammation.
  • Seafood, milk and eggs also help, as can moderate exposure to the morning sun, because they all increase the body’s stores of vitamin D, essential for maintaining bone strength.
  • Ocean fish, salmon and tuna are full of omega 3 fatty acids that promote bone strength, relieve joint pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Spices can also reduce any swelling, for instance, ginger and turmeric, which help relieve injuries alongside decreasing knee joint inflammation.

10.Reduce the intake of joint-damaging foods

  • Sodium causes an imbalance in body fluids and increases liquid in the joints, both of which affect joint flexibility. Foods which are high in sodium include instant foods, pickled/marinated goods and various types of processed food.
  • Sugar, when consumed in large amounts, not only leads to excess body weight, but also increases blood sugar levels, which significantly increase inflammation throughout the body.
  • Fatty food contains high levels of saturated fats which can easily lead to increased inflammation in the body and joints.
  • Alcohol consumption has the effect of restricting circulation to the knee joint, while also stimulating inflammation to occur with greater severity.

Knee damage may be a completely normal part of the ageing process. If we act according to the essential tips laid out above, it can help slow that process down and provie some relief for joint pain. That being said, in cases where joint pain is having a significant effect on the daily life of the sufferer, medical attention should be sought to ensure the correct diagnosis and treatment.

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Pirapat Ruchiwit, M.D. Summary: Orthopedics Orthopedics